In Mrazek Deal, Hextall Rewards Flyers in Push for Playoffs
It may have been a move that was coming all along, but when Michal Neuvirth went down with an injury on Sunday afternoon, joining fellow regular netminder Brian Elliott with a lower-body injury, the Flyers and GM Ron Hextall were forced into action.
Hextall completed a deal on Monday night, acquiring goalie Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings for two conditional draft picks.
In years past, the Flyers would have pressed on and faced the schedule ahead with whatever they had. Getting out of the rebuilding phase was what mattered then, not the success of just making the playoffs.
But after rising from near rock bottom at the start of December to have a playoff spot well within their reach, Hextall rewarded the rest of the players on the team with a veteran presence in goal that signifies the Flyers are here to finish what they have started, to make the playoffs and see what happens from there in the postseason.
“This is a sign that our players have done a really good job,” Hextall said in a conference call on Monday night. “They’ve worked extremely hard. We’re in a tough situation -- you lose your top two goalies when you’re fighting for a playoff spot, and our players have worked hard for a long time now, and I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team. That’s the reason we acted. Our focus right now is to make the playoffs, and if we make the playoffs, then we’ll go from there.”
Elliott is already out for five-to-six weeks following surgery to repair a core muscle. Hextall did not provide a specific time frame for Neuvirth’s injury, but noted it was a matter of weeks, not days, and that the injury was long-term.
With both goalies on the shelf, this was a move that needed to be made. The Flyers playoff push has been heavily aided by solid goaltending and strong defensive efforts. Hextall noted that the team has improved in every aspect and that the quality of goaltending that they get from here is of the utmost importance.